Potholes puncture World Cup legacy

Posted On Monday, 13 December 2010 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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The 2010 FIFA World Cup left behind a landmark transport legacy for South Africa, but the country's long-standing troubles such as chronic potholes remain too.

Road InfrastructureThe 2010 FIFA World Cup left behind a landmark transport legacy for South Africa, but the country's long-standing troubles such as chronic potholes remain too.

For a start, the R25-billion Gautrain rapid rail project opened its doors to the public as a commercial operation just before the World Cup kicked off.

Even though only the OR Tambo-Sandton link is operational, the rest of this massive commuter rail project is expected to be finished in 2011.

SA's international airports look grander after Airports Company South Africa completed its 20-billion-rand upgrade of its facilities.

Even the bus rapid transit (BRT) systems in certain cities were in operation during the spectacular event and they have proven to be popular with commuters even since.

Despite these landmark developments, South Africa's transport infrastructure faces challenges, including hazardous potholes and the nationwide roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offence Act (AARTO), which will introduce the demerit system.

According to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), potholes are costing motorists 50 billion rand in vehicle repairs and injury every year.

CSIR says the development of potholes in South African roads has accelerated considerably due primarily to reduced preventative maintenance being applied to many roads, combined with particularly wet periods during rainy seasons and rapidly increasing numbers of heavy vehicles.

The total asset value of South African roads is estimated at one trillion rand, with the current road maintenance expenditure standing at 9.2 billion rand, CSIR says.

Yet the road maintenance backlog is huge. The Democratic Alliance (DA) estimates the costs of road maintenance backlog at 164 billion rand.

The national roads, overseen by South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), are in good shape and well maintained.

To facilitate easy flow of traffic, roads and interchanges were opened throughout the country.

SANRAL has worked on toll and non-toll projects including the Chota Motala and Umgeni/Inanda interchange upgrades in KwaZuluNatal, the R300 upgrade in the Western Cape and the N6 upgrades between Ezibeleni and JJ Serfontein in the Eastern Cape.

As part of the 23 billion rand Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), the agency is building the Gilloolly's flyover, and upgrading the N17 interchange and the Albertina Sisulu (R21) route, among other initiatives.

Unlike freeways, provincial and municipal roads are in tatters.

"Serious problems are experienced on most provincial roads. The provinces are allocated an amount for total roads activity, be it the construction of new roads or the maintenance and repair of existing roads, Phil Paige-Green of the CSIR, says.

Budget constraints often lead to reactive and poor maintenance of roads. At municipal level, authorities have to use rates and taxes paid by the public to maintain roads - not everyone pays these, so financial constraints are once again a reality," Paige-Green adds.

Besides perilous potholes, the South African government has yet to introduce the AARTO system nationally.


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